Holy Week is the last week of the Lenten Season and, if you haven’t given something up for Lent yet, it’s not too late!
During this week that focuses on the agonizing death of Jesus on the cross, I would propose a rather radical thing to give up: Pessimism.
I call it radical because there is every reason to be pessimistic this week. The betrayal, abandonment, scourging, and crucifixion of Jesus are catastrophically painful on their own, but the reality is that it is not a matter of history. It is not only the act that created a cornerstone of our Christian faith, it is a reality of the here and now.
From the war in Ukraine to the school shooting in Nashville (the 130th mass shooting of 2023!), there is no shortage of people living out Good Friday. There is no shortage of people being robbed of their family members. There is no shortage of people being trafficked, tortured, and crucified on crosses of a different name.
As people of faith, we are called to stand with each one of them and manifest God’s healing, compassion, and justice. But if we leave our hearts in the darkness of such suffering; if we leave Jesus up on that cross and call that the end of the story, we are something other than Christian.
The power of Jesus’ passion and death is to realize that every time his suffering and death are repeated in this world, God is there. And God never leaves a story unfinished. God never abandons anyone to suffering, pain, or death. The core of our faith is that a new day is always coming. New life is always coming. Resurrection is always coming. Easter is always coming.
The power of God is alive and working in the world today just as surely as it was alive and working on that first Easter morning. On that day, the tomb of Jesus wasn’t just empty, it was MADE empty. God’s power was then and God’s power is now.
On that first Easter morning—after so many horrific experiences during the past 72 hours—God essentially said: “Let’s clear this up once and for all so that no one can mistake the truth: Death never wins. Suffering never has the last word. Agony is always, always, replaced by joy.”
This world can be an awful place. The Pontius Pilates and the Vladimir Putins are real and the terror they bring is real. But we have a Savior who has walked through every kind of battlefield that anyone (including you!) may face and strode out of a tomb and greeted his friends who had given him up for dead! Just so, every path of suffering will also end in a garden on a morning that should bring more weeping but instead will bring rejoicing.
Sure there’s cause to be pessimistic. But this weekend will be a grand reminder that there is an even greater cause to be optimistic and filled with unmitigated joy and trust in the future.
See you in church,